Hotline Miami (2013) Review

Get ready... To die.

Get ready… To die.

Version Played: PS3

I’ve said before that I wasn’t around for the 80’s, but it must have been good as we now have yet another game influence by the time period. Not just that, but Hotline Miami is also heavily influenced by 2011, cult classic, Drive. A movie so entertaining and violent, it’s hard not to enjoy it. But do all these influences make Hotline Miami a good game? No, they make Hotline Miami a fantastic game, one you should have downloading right now. Released on PC at the end of 2012, only now do we see a port of the game on PS3/ PS Vita, with cross-buy no less!

The story of Hotline Miami is a big surprise for me, being extremely twisted and fun to play through. You’ll play as an unnamed character that fans have come to name ‘Jacket’, due to the distinctive jacket he wears. You’ll start off at Jacket’s apartment, and will listen to your phone messages that give you instructions to go somewhere and kill some people. These messages are always discreet, asking you to pick up your dry cleaning at a certain address, when really they’re asking you to go and kill someone there. They are a great read, and can lead to some laughs along the way.

Once at your destination, your then tasked with picking a mask to wear to hide your identity. These masks, all of different animals, give you a perk of sorts, some let you survive a few extra shots, others let you start with a weapon. There’s even a mask that is exclusive to the PS3/ PS Vita versions of the game, a mask that turns the game black and white but leaves in the bright red of the blood, giving a very ‘Sin City’ feel to the game. From here, you have to enter the area and kill everyone inside, one that’s done, you’ll go to somewhere like a V/H/S rental shop or a pizza place and get something for free off your friend there. Then the process repeats itself, with the story moving along with it.

Straight to the point, I respect that.

Straight to the point, I respect that.

All that killing would actually become quite tiresome if it wasn’t for the amazing soundtrack too. Being upbeat, electric and 100% 80’s style, it can get you bobbing your head and tapping you feet in no time. The music makes the game pretty hypnotic too, killing to the beats of the music as it loops in the background. Whilst I’d still say that Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon had the better soundtrack of the year so far, I still recommend you pick up the soundtrack as soon as you can.

Then there’s the top-down, 8-bit inspired graphics. From the face close-ups, to the violence taking place on-screen as you murder your way through the level, they are a joy to look at. My worry with this style of graphics is losing some to the detail and not being able to make something out that is relevant. Thankfully, the visuals here are extremely polished and bring back memories of playing the first couple GTA games on the PS1. For that, I couldn’t thank them enough, and the graphics help sell that 80’s feel more so than todays HD textures and detail.

Colour everywhere!

Colour everywhere!

As for gameplay, it’s essentially a twin-stick shooter. I’ve played many of these in the past on various consoles, and most of them have controlled wonderfully. However due to the precise nature needed and the high difficulty in Hotline Miami, I had my doubts. Those doubts were put to rest pretty quickly, it may take a few chapters to really nail the feel for the game as it’s so fast paced, but once you have, the game became a joy to control and with the inclusion of a lock-on button for more precise aiming, you’ll be slaughtering your way through the levels in no time. Despite that though, I feel a keyboard and mouse would still be the most ideal way to control the game.

At just £6.49, it’s impossible to state just how much game you’re getting for your money. I’ve been playing it for so long, completing the game several times and collecting all the secrets, masks and weapons, let’s just say spending £20 still would have felt just as fair. There may not be any extra modes apart from the story chapters, but there are a few extra chapters that are just for fun and a scoring system gives extra incentive to replay and get those A+. The scoring system goes off the combos you’ve managed to pick up during the level as well as time bonuses and how direct you were. This scoring system is what helps unlock some masks and extra weapons that will be available in the chapters.

SPLAT!

SPLAT!

I could talk for hours on the topic of Hotline Miami, a game costing just £6.49 giving me just as much enjoyment as a £40 game. The indie scene is a major player in the games industry moving forward, and if they keep developing games as crazy and unique as this, then I can’t wait to see what pops up in the near future. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is the sequel to this amazing game, and whether or not it will come directly to the PS3/ PS Vita alongside the PC release is yet to be announced. Due for release at the end of 2013, I cannot wait to get my hands on it. So treat yourself, whether on PC, PS3 or PS Vita, pick up Hotline Miami, support the indie and put that mask on, it’s going to be a long night.

96 Animal Masks out of 100

-ast

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State of Decay – Sandbox Mode and 500,000+ Downloads

It hit the spot.

It hit the spot.

Big congratulations are needed as Undead Labs have achieved over 500,000 downloads for their open-world, zombie survival game, State of Decay. If this is evident to anything, it’s that the zombie sub-genre of games is not overdone, just needing a new direction. That direction being a focus on survival and not mowing them down with enough ammo to sustain an army. With these kinds of sales, it’s no surprise that Undead Labs is hard at work on patches for the game to make it more stable, but more interesting, they’re also working on additional content.

We all know, including Undead Labs themselves that a co-op mode would do more than sweeten the deal. These kind of survival games crave he ability to have a friend accompany you as you walk, run and drive through the zombie infested map. Unfortunately, this is something that will take time and will not be coming to the game anytime soon, the developers themselves have confirmed that.

On the positive side though, they have confirmed something that will be coming to the game within the next couple of months. Sandbox Mode. In this mode the story quests are deactivated and your one and only objective is to survive for as long as you can. Also confirmed is that some additional mechanics will be introduced within this mode, however no light has been shed on what they may be. For me, maybe some additional activities to keep you busy around the map or the inclusion of being able to have your home base at any of the available destinations on the map.

Unfortunately, we’re still in the dark as to whether or not this Sandbox Mode will arrive as paid DLC, free DLC or in a free update. We do know that achievements will be attached to it, but usually that means it’s a form of DLC, and usually paid DLC at that. Drop the extra achievements and let everyone who has bought the game, experience the new mode, that’s what I say. Either way, well done Undead Labs, I look forward to future products from you.

-ast

PS4 or Xbox One?

A week ago, the world witnessed the reveal of the Xbox One The reaction to the Xbox One was unfavourable at best. After the hour-long conference, the PS4 was now the first choice amongst console gamers, Sony’s stock value increased by 9% and Microsoft had dug themselves into a very deep hole. I have always been an Xbox 360 gamer, it was the first (at the time) next-gen console I bought. I ended up purchasing a PS3 about a year and a half after the 360, yet still used my 360 as my primary platform. To this day I’ve accumulated over 150,000+ Gamerscore and played nearly every game I’ve ever wanted to. So when I’m ready to throw that all away for a new start on the PS4, that’s a sign that at the moment, the Xbox One has failed to impress.

I might wait for the slim version!

I might wait for the slim version!

Let us focus on the positives of the Xbox One conference. Firstly, the Halo TV Series was a very welcome surprise. Even though Steven Spielberg’s role is no doubt a minor one, the very idea of a Halo TV Series is exciting. Secondly, Remedy has a new game coming out. From the creators of Max Payne and the fantastic Alan Wake, Quantum Break looked very interesting. Judging from the trailer too, this game may see a TV Series of its own, with the trailer to the game being a mix of live action and game. Lastly, all the minor things like a Blu-ray drive, Skype and of course improved hardware, are fantastic.

I won’t focus on all the bad news we heard though, why you may ask? Well it was a console reveal conference, not a game reveal conference. So having Microsoft show what the Xbox One can do to make life more lazy than it already is, I fully expected. The wait for E3 now feels longer than it has ever been, only 2 weeks until we will know everything about both the Xbox One and PS4.

Specs for both Xbox One and PS4 have been revealed, and with many people stating the PS4 is already a more powerful machine, that had no effect on the current generation. The PS3 may have been more powerful, but yet it was harder to develop for and was more expensive. That’s the real kicker here, the price. Prices have not been announced for either the Xbox One or PS4, and whilst many gamers have their hearts set against the Xbox One, it will always boil down to the price. If the Xbox One is cheaper than the PS4, then I can almost guarantee that will be enough justification for some gamers.

I don’t think the competition of ‘Which Console is Better?’ will boil down to graphics, look of the console or even what games will be available. It will boil down to what is the cheaper option. PC gaming may be the only way to get the best out of a game, but why do you think everyone still hasn’t adopted PC gaming yet? Convenience? Not at all, it’s because it’s too expensive. Every Xbox One will come with a Kinect 2.0 included, that already boosts the value for money right there.

Looks nice, but how does it feel?

Looks nice, but how does it feel?

The PS4 is what I am looking forward to, being a member of PlayStation Plus and slowly but surely moving my gaming to my PS3, I start to understand why Sony has had so much success with the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 in the past. They focus on giving the gamer what they want the most, games. Not new ways to change a channel or surf the internet whilst watching a movie. However I still reserve my judgement until E3 is over and the dust has settled. Microsoft could throw game after game up on their conference screens. Sony could announce that the PS4 is £500 and shoot themselves in the foot again. Only time will tell.

-ast